Gonzalo Himiob, Vice President of the Venezuelan legal aid NGO Penal Forum, informed that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted protection to Venezuelan children and adolescents in Trinidad and Tobago. The measure is to avoid new deportations and another chance that they may be in danger of death while sailing on the high seas.
This is the latest news from the odyssey that the group of 16 boys and girls, including a 4-month-old baby, endured when they tried to enter Trinidad & Tobago illegally. The boys were arrested and sent back in boats across the rough seas, and then returned when the Trinidad and Tobago High Court overruled PM Keith Rowley.
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The kids are part of a wave of 5.5 million Venezuelan migrants that began in 2013 and has swept over Colombia (which harbors almost 2 million new migrants), Brazil, Trinidad, and other neighboring countries, in what is considered the largest exodus in the history of the Western Hemisphere. The forced migration includes most of their parents, who had earlier arrived in Trinidad and Tobago, where most of them also arrived illegally.
Through his Twitter account, Himiob maintained that the measure got approved after a petition made by the Criminal Forum to the IACHR, inside and outside Venezuela, to guarantee respect for the human rights of underage migrants.
“The IACHR responded to our request and decreed precautionary measures for the protection of children and adolescents who were arbitrarily deported from Trinidad and Tobago,” tweeted the attorney.
According to the resolution issued by Gonzalo Himiob, the IACHR urges the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to implement the necessary measures to guarantee the rights to life and personal integrity of migrant children.
In late November, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, assured that he given support and legal registration to Venezuelans currently living in that country. However, he indicated that this does not mean that Venezuelan migrants have the right to claim all their families.
Following Rowley’s statements, the NGO Amnesty International sent a letter urging the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to protect the rights of minors, following the controversial deportation of 16 Venezuelan children.
The minors, including a four-month-old baby, were deported in conditions unclarified yet by the Trinidad and Tobago authorities. They were at sea for almost 48 hours until their relatives located them, and they returned to Trinidad and Tobago.
Estimated figures show that 24,169 Venezuelans live in Trinidad and Tobago (other sources put that figure at around 40,000), of which 14,241 have requested refuge, and 2,514 have been recognized as such. Given the proximity of the two countries (a couple of hours in a slow boat) and the fact that most of the Venezuelans arrived illegally and cannot speak English, accurate figures are almost impossible to obtain for them.
However, what is clear is that Trinidad and Tobago are deporting them in masse. Only in 2020, more than 200 Venezuelans have been deported, according to data published in the Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants of the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR).